BODY: Disabilities Commission
DATE: Jan. 12
LWVM OBSERVER: Nancy Powell
Collins Institute Survey
At the Dec. 22 Disabilities Commission meeting, representatives from the Collins Center, a state entity located at UMass-Boston, presented an overview of a grant-funded ADA Transition Plan they are partnering with the town of Marblehead to develop.
The plan includes getting public comment via a survey tool that was launched Jan. 23 to look at problematic access issues in town.
Commission members expressed concern that survey questions seek input only from those who are disabled or are providing direct care for someone with a disability, thereby overlooking input from members of the community at large and possibly skewing results.
Members of the commission will review the survey and provide feedback to the Collins Institute as needed.
Amy Hirschkron raised concern about pedestrians having to move onto the street because of drivers who frequently park their cars on sidewalks around town. She noted this is especially dangerous for those with auditory, vision and mobility impairments. The police, when called, will ticket illegally parked cars, but this does not seem to be a routine procedure they follow.
Chair Laurie Blaisdell proposed inviting the police chief to a future meeting to discuss this issue and in addition seek more robust enforcement of handicap parking violations and ensure that cars are parked at least 20 feet from an intersection due to visibility concerns for pedestrians when crossing streets.
Hirschkron proposed increasing public and law enforcement awareness regarding this issue. Blaisdell will contact local news outlets to see if a friendly reminder could be published
that would highlight the sidewalk parking problem.
An open discussion brought forth the following ideas for the Commission to undertake in the coming year:
- Create enhanced access to the harbor, including a kayak launch and improved access for community members who would like to swim.
- Provide remote access to Town Meeting as is in the works in several other municipalities in Massachusetts that seek to offer voting via biometrics/vetted remote voting companies.
- Increase the Commission’s visibility by doing such things as tabling at Farmers’ Market, reinstituting MDC’s “Accessibility Awards” for town businesses, and creating a more active Facebook page.
- Revisit the map of accessible locations around town and ensure there is an ample supply available.
- Suggest the Post Office install a push button door opener outside of the building. The interior door has recently been made accessible.
- Increase awareness of Council on Aging wheelchair-accessible busing program for trips in town and to venues/appointments in neighboring communities.
- Invite Thatcher Kezer (town administrator) and Jenny Armini (state rep) to future meetings.
Marblehead League of Women Voters Observer Corps
Observer Corps Reports are provided by volunteers from the Marblehead League of Women Voters. To learn more about the League and its activities, see my.lwv.org/massachusetts/marblehead.